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I first came to Canada in March this year, right at the final stages of their cold spell. It got to -15 some days but was still beautiful here. One of my first initiations into Canadian life was an introduction to Tim Horton’s Coffee. It’s amazing, I love the stuff. No day is complete without it. Another introduction was to the breakfast bagel. For non-veggies, you get sausage, egg and ‘Murican cheese on a bagel and for the veggies, it’s the same but without the sausage. My bagel of choice which was advised by my Canadian colleagues was the Jalapeño bagel. I have to say I have never eaten such an amazing breakfast in my life. Just the right amount of fire, flavour and filling to keep me going most if not all day.

Having returned back again on Labor day (1st September) I paid a visit to my local Timmies on 2nd, and had one of the best bagels I’ve ever had. It was worth the 8 hour flight over just for that. I had my coffee and hit my working day full on. I had a couple of days that same week where I was unable to partake in my usual Timmies breakfast so as soon as I was able I hit up the restaurant again and was told they’d run out and not had any of the Jalapeño bagels delivered! What a nightmare. Days went past, and still no delivery. I emailed Tim Horton’s and was told that they were sorry (you can’t get more Canadian really) but they were discontinuing this item because they constantly strive to change the menus and add more benefit, value and flavour to their customers day. THERE IS NO NEW BAGEL LISTED ON THEIR MENU!

I’m incensed. And also learning how to make Jalapeño bagels.

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Montreal, in brief

During the recent Victoria weekend break, I took a solo road trip out to Montreal. I had wanted to go to Six Flags (La Ronde) as I had heard good things about it.

Firstly, the journey. This is the route I took, which was actually quite pleasant but very long. General rule of thumb I’ve found where I am here, is that on the highway it would be ideal to drive at 110-115, where the speed limit is 100. 120+ gets you a fine. 150 gets you a car seizure, and a hefty fine. As you leave the safety of Toronto though, it’s best to stick to the speed limit as they enforce it more so.

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The journey was worthwhile, and I was entertained by my phone playing some of my favourite tracks via bluetooth.

Stopped on the way to take some photos – this was off the beaten track purely by accident, but I am happy about it.

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When I arrived in Montreal, I was shattered. However there was no chance I was going to miss out on taking in some of the sites. Now, I spoke French in school, however that was a very very very lonnnnng time ago. I don’t speak it regularly enough to remember any of it so getting around a city where not even the bus drivers understood English, was not good. Still, I left the car at the hotel and hopped on a bus to the nearest large subway station.

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Simplicity itself.

I headed in to Old Montreal, which was beautiful.

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Stayed for a meal at a lovely little Italian restaurant, which had a terrace. It was so warm that day, sitting outside was perfect. There was even a street performer (don’t groan, this one was actually very good!) so dinner and entertainment for half the price!

La Ronde was ok, I took no pictures purely because I didn’t want to break any of my devices on the rides. I’m glad I didn’t.

Here endeth the tour.

I took a trip out, yesterday, to find a Drive In movie theater (theatre…) which is in a city near where I am currently staying. I found it but the box office only opens at 19:30 so I ended up leaving, and pointing the car in a direction to see where I would end up. Turns out I ended up in Niagara for the second time while I have been here.

I love the place, I love how tacky it is there (it’s like the Blackpool of Canada), but yet there’s such a majestic view too.

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I took this in April, when Nikki came over to visit me for her birthday. You can see the huge chunks of ice on the sides of the falls, which hadn’t melted from Winter – this was 16/17 April this year.

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On the same day, I took this from beside the falls themselves. There is a feature on site called the Walk Behind the Falls. It’s definitely an experience. One I would love to repeat; and did.

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This picture was taken yesterday, of a similar perspective to the one above. It was from a little lower, and with a different camera. I had to be quick because there was so much mist and spray. Doesn’t look as mean and moody, but it is still magnificent.

When I went originally, the Maid of the Mist (USA side) and Hornblower (Canada side) tours were off, due to being out of season and too much remaining ice/ice blocks falling over the falls. I decided to take the plunge (not literally) and take the Hornblower. It was a quick trip, but only cost $19+HST without the audio guide.

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It was a tad wet inside the horseshoe falls section!

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But nevertheless, epic. The falls don’t look so big when you’re in there. I was surprised to read they were only 176m. I’d always imagined them to be huge – I blame the original Superman film for that.

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The falls from the American side. You can see the main falls, and I think the little one on its own is Angel Falls or Angel Hair Falls. Something like that.

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A quick jump back in time to April again, for the view from the room I got for Nikki. I couldn’t go back up there this time, so the best I could do is below:

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I love the camera on this phone. Rather than going for 342.7billion pixels like that Nokia Lumia thing on the market, it is only an 8mpx camera but they’ve made it the best it can possibly be. It uses HDR algorithms which camera people tell me means it takes a shot on low light, high light and then merges them together for the best bits of both. All at the touch of one button. I can get similar results on my DSLR camera with time and patience, and a tripod. However sometimes you just want to capture the moment there and then, rather than wait for the perfect moment to come along, and missing everything else in the process.

I think that’s enough of Niagara for one day. Next post, which is currently in progress, will feature a couple of shots I took when I visited Montreal.

Hope you guys are all well.

Pete

When in Canada…

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I did it. I bought me a pair of Bauer Vapor blades. Tonight, I took them to the ice. Now, I’m not the most athletic of people but I’m working on it. I’m not the most stable of people (mentally, some may say…) but I’m working on it. I’m not the most graceful of people but guess what. Yep, I’m working on it.

So I took my time and laced these bad boys up properly. Teetered towards the ice door, with the plan to work my way around the edge but then it happened. I’m not sure how old he or she was (couldn’t tell, full hockey mask on) but it must have been barely up to my thighs. Little bastard was a rocket on the ice! Now I’m proud to admit that in the entire hour and a half, I didn’t fall down once! I had several wobbles, but kept it upright. I couldn’t believe the kids there though, oh my word! They’re not kidding when they say Canadians are born to skate. I reckon this one popped out already lacing up its first pair! Fair play to everyone there tonight. I was on my own, first time on the ice, christening my first pair of skates and there wasn’t one asshole there. Some very talented skaters, all of which gave words of encouragement or tips on how to stay vertical. I can now cross feet on turning – well I could until they made us skate the other damn direction! That screwed me up.

Over all, much fun was had. I can’t wait to go back. Thank you, Canada, for giving me this opportunity; and all for the princely sum of $3.30! Yes, I’ll be back.

Changes

I’ve not been here for a while. There’s been quite a few changes in my life. Perhaps I should start with the basics.

For those of you I’ve known for a long while (Voxers, you know who you are) you’ll know I had planned on a future with Jemma and Aston on the outskirts of Manchester. Jemma and I are no longer together. I left the house and moved into shared accommodation before meeting someone new, and eventually moving in with her. Nikki and I have been happy since.

I see my son once every two weeks for now. Hopefully that will change as I love the little guy, he’s my world.

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Since getting a flat with Nikki, we decided a move into Manchester city centre would be better for us. This we’ve done to cut down travel time to work and also, because I gave my car to Jemma to ensure she didn’t struggle with my boy – ever – to make it easier to collect him using public transport. No walking for him, no struggles for Jemma. The picture above is Aston in his room, in our place in Manchester. He loves it, which is all that matters to me.

I work for a large multi national company, based in Salford in Manchester. Well, I did, until December 2013. After 15 years service I decided enough was enough. So many false promises, lies, look-overs, bollockings for reasons beyond my control and endless red tape politics caused me to hand in my notice. I began a career anew at a much smaller firm doing something entirely different. I now am training to implement time and attendance systems to companies throughout the UK. I don’t have a desk any more, which I have to be honest, scares the living crap out of me. My desk now is the dashboard of my company car. My computer is now my company laptop. My communications are now handled on my work mobile phone. My fuel is paid for. My hotels are paid for using my company credit card. So much has changed in my career and I’m actually happy in my job.

At least I was.

Picture the scene. I have been shadowing an implementer for 3 months from January until near the end of March. My manager approaches me, on one of my rare office days, and asks me how I feel about going to help out one of our other offices. For 3 months. In Canada. Initially, I was a bit shocked so called Nikki and asked how she would feel about it. This was 3pm on a Friday. By half past, I was on my way home to pack for a flight on Monday morning.

I’m writing this from Canada, after 10 days holiday with Nikki, which the company honoured. They flew her out to be with me, and are flying her home.

Here are a couple of pictures taken while together:

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My home is now a one bedroom condo in Mississauga.

I’m doing OK. I miss my son more than I can convey. I want to move out here permanently. Canada is amazing.

For now, goodbye, but I’m going to try and keep this more up to date.

Not here all that much

Hi all,

I’m not here all that much these days.  I’ve made the move to Google+ and love it over there.

I still come here to read and check on everyone else’s updates so please please don’t delete me from your distribution lists! 

I’ve added an RSS feed from my G+ but I don’t think you’ll get updates.  Feel free to check in once in a while if you like though, or are bored…

Pete

Phone software update

So, while I was holidaying in Wales, Sony Ericsson released the newest iteration of my phone software to the world. Right when I couldn’t get at it. Right when I couldn’t install it. Bastards.
However it is not all bad. While waiting to get it the wonderful devs over at xda developers went nuts on it and within a very short time the new OS has been rooted. For those unaware when an Android phone is rooted, you have superuser access to it. Means you can install apps that have greater control over phone hardware in complete contrast to what is the walled garden of iPhone ‘bliss’.
So far, awesome. Camera is amazing and still has the face detection I know and enjoy. Great phone again. Thanks for finally releasing the software, Sony Ericsson and moreso thank you to the geniuses at XDA for making rooting possible. Brilliant.
Oh yeah, I am now back home 😛

I am here: 53 10.195 N 4 3.446 W http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:53.16992,-4.05744

Not sure how well this will work but I am today in Wales at the location above – for the next 10 mins anyway.

Off work

I don’t want to rub this in but I am now off work for 2 weeks. I need this as I am more hacked off with work than ever before.
Not many plans but I do intend to clear out the shit cupboard storage area under the stairs, get new car insurance, search for a job and take a caravan trip to Wales. Static though, I won’t be holding traffic up 🙂

Recently after watching a bear baiting TV show here in the UK referenced in a previous post by the name of Jeremy Kyle in which the subject was a poor older gentleman who was addicted to eating, I decided to take a look at my own frame, build and Western lifestyle and the results ladies and gentleman is that I am unfit. Not only that but I am not happy about it. When I first moved to my new place I decided to start cycling more but through being lazy that fell by the wayside. Excuses ranged from weather to (actual, not made up) back and shoulder pain. My bike sat unused for days, weeks.
Mrs PeteGraham‘s Uncle called me a couple of weeks ago from within a local sports store where he was looking at bikes so now after his purchase we are going out cycling together most days and I feel great.
He has also told me of a gym he joined 8 months ago where there are no membership fees or contracts. He has been once. We are to start going there too as he also needs to shape up. I dont want to end up looking like the chavs you see walking round with their tshirts off showing their twig-like frames. Nor do I want to look like a body builder. I just want to tone up a little.
The family member has gone away working this week so I am cycling alone. If you find yourself in my neck of the woods and see a strange looking figure pounding the streets on a bike he is very proud of, please don’t mock him. It will be me.